A Very Fond FarewellThe last official game of the season, away at East Horsley, was a beauty for the Woking and Horsell Sunday side. The team, with some last minute adjustments to the batting order, reached a very respectable 219 for 8 declared. The team then bowled out the home side for 180 for a long overdue victory.
The team approached this last game with a little trepidation. This was best illustrated by next year’s incoming captain (Matt Allan) directing the rest of his family to Horsley and Send rather than the far more distinguished location of East Horsley Meanwhile at East Horsley captain Cochrane rapidly rejigged the batting order and Scott and Billy were elevated to opening. Both appeared to relish the task until they realised that the E&H opener was a very quick and sometimes accurate bowler. Off a half dozen paces the bowler used the incline and his fierce pace to scare batsman and wicket-keeper alike. Scott, not a man easily bullied, reacted well and picked him off his legs. Billy was a little more reticent. As Billy tells it a car that went along behind the sightscreen distracted him. He does also admit that he didn’t see the ball that took his off stump. That was Billy gone for a duck and suitably annoyed, although to his credit, and paying a little respect to the genteel surroundings, he went off swearing only under his breath.
This brought Dave to the crease, Dave was also unnerved by the pacey opener – unfortunately he did not have a car to blame for his dismissal. To his credit Ferrari decided to put his body on the line, establishing early on that his bat was not going to be able to get on the ball that often. He took one in the guts, one in the groin and then, playing back to one, he took one on the off stump. At the other end Scott decided, against the wishes of the rest of the batting side, to get the fast bowler angry by hooking him for a huge six. This ball crashed into the west wing of one of the hedge fund houses bordering the ground. One can only wonder at the commotion that Scott caused at the Sunday lunch table of the hedge fund house as he hit the ball into their dining room on the full. Vintage claret and family silver scattering to all corners I would imagine.
At this point Albert came to the crease and Scott and Albert settled down to see off the openers. Albert, a street smart young man, paid particular attention to avoiding the now very angry and very fast opener. At one point he took this approach so far that he overtook Scott on his second run as Albert ran quickly on his way to a determined three to avoid strike at the ‘wrong’ end. This caused much jollity amongst the rest of the side, the ranks now swelled by the three previously lost Allans.
Whilst not a great one for conspiracy theories, car crashes do happen etc, the fact that two of the three missing Allans were opening batsmen, and that the opening bowler for the oppo was fast and loose, leaves an inevitable question. It was Matt and Peter that were laughing the loudest at the sight of the ball flying fast past the noses of both batsman and wicketkeeper. I will leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusion.
Amongst all this hilarity Scott and Albert settled down well and built a great stand from the early setback. Scott was his usual combative self, regularly pulling and driving for 4’s and 6’s (he ended with 6 6’s). Albert was a little more cultured, cutting particularly well off the back foot as well as displaying some fine sweep shots as the spinners came on. Scott fell eventually, having hit a great looking 72 off 62 balls, as a slightly underhit straight drive was very well caught, low and on the run, on the boundary edge. At this point the game had gone from 36 for 2 to 111 for 3. Albert continued the senior role as others came and went in the now familiar W+H way. Matt caught at long on, Jerry similar and Lloyd bowled as he tried to get Albert on strike – the big man approaching his century and the overs and time eeking away. A couple of boundaries saw Albert approach the ton, the watching crowd arose as he scampered a single and reached a very well earned century – which brought about the team’s declaration, having reached 219 off of their 39 overs. Albert was long overdue a good score, having experienced some bad luck with the bat this season, and played really well for his hundred not our off 92 balls. That was W&H done for 219 for 7.
Imran and Mandar opened the bowling for W&H and both started well. Imran (2 for 36 off 7) made his debut for the Sunday side and bowled fast and full with only the occasional wayward one. It was a similar story at the other end where Mandar (3 for 20 off 7.3) was troubling the batsmen with pace and bounce. He had a couple of close lbw shouts which got him fired up, our reliably loud groundsman then poured petrol on these embers by barracking Mandar and umpire alike. The result was a small outburst of verbals between our fiery fast bowler and the umpire as Mandar asked whether he was going to give the bastman out after Mandar had uprooted his off stump. Skipper Cochrane, in his final game of an eventful half season, played the scouser at this point with much ‘calm down, calm down’ and hand waving. He addressed these pleas to both Mandar and umpire, who should of both known better, and things settled from there.
Mandar took a second wicket in the same over, again sending the stumps flying, and the home team were looking precarious on 19 for 2. Imran struck in the next over, which represented a well deserved wicket for his pace and line. In the midst of this the batsmen found the short boundaries regularly despite the diving efforts of Albert, Matt and Lloyd in the covers to keep the score ticking over, albeit slowly. Matt (0 for 19 off 5) then replaced Imran and bowled a mixed bag of tight and loose. Its possible the upcoming election for captain is already having some effect on Matt as a number of full tosses were despatched to the boundary towards the end of an otherwise very fine spell, he started with two maidens. Lloyd (0 for 34 off 4) replaced Mandar at the end of his spell and illustrated the captain’s curse from this end. Despite beating the bat with his first ball he then struggled, bowling up hill and into the wind, with length and got punished on the leg side. It was an easy decision to replace himself with Smithy as the 4 and 5 bats started to look very comfortable and an initially large target looked gettable if they were able to hang around. Smithy (2 for 27 off 5) started with a bad ball which, in common with so many, took a wicket – caught brilliantly by Jerry on the boundary.
This kept the pressure on the home side who had made it from a precarious 20 for 3 off 8 to 101 for 4 at the end of the 22nd over. To their credit the home side continued to go for the win. Peter Allan took a fine edge chance for Smithy’s second wicket. Scott (1 for 10 off 4) replaced Matt at one end and bowled well, apart from a truly rubbish two bounce attempted leg break, keeping things tight at his end to allow the spinners to loft it at the other end. Peter Allan distinguished himself again with a really fantastic stumping off Scott’s medium pace, picking it up and swiping the bails off as the batsman was unbalanced. Again Peter has a number of fine chances denied this season and it was great to see him get credit for his excellent work. Imran replaced Peter at one end, taking a wicket in his first over of his second spell – again an excellent debut for the side. There was yet more Allan action as Jerry replaced Scott at the other end. The visitors still looked to keep the game open and Jerry’s bowling was the perfect temptation. He picked up the 8th wicket (1 for 30 off 3) in his first over and continued to pitch it up to try to encourage the chances that W&H needed to win the game. We were witness at this point to a bizarre sight as Jerry bowled on off stump to a packed leg side field and the batsman, as he promised, cleared all fielders for 3 6’s in the over.
The game was drawing to a close and the run rate, at over 9 an over looked increasingly tough to get as the W&H committee brought back Mandar and Imran for a final burst. With a final great irony Mandar caught the well set number 7 bat lbw to finish off the game. This was the very chap that he had disagreed with quite strongly over lbw decisions earlier in the game.
The result then was a comprehensive W&H victory and key contributions from across the team - Mandar, Imran, Peter Allan Peter Smith Albert Scott and Jerry. A really pleasing result for the novice captain in his last game as skipper (all being well for ever!).
On a personal note I have enjoyed the experience of captaining the side, particularly as it’s made up of a fine bunch of blokes, good cricketers playing the game in the right way and enjoying their Sunday afternoons. I’ve also been impressed with the skill and maturity of the colts that have played with us and look forward to seeing them advance through the club as I am sure they will. So there you have it a fond farewell as I go off to spend more time with my growing family, and look forward to the odd game for a year or two – which I can safely say as Mrs captain will never read one of these. Last thing is to look forward to the curry night and wish the team, and Matt in particular, well for next year. He has the black book and is one of the best players in the side so will be plain sailing I’m sure. Anyway that’s enough Gwyneth Paltrow style blubing. Ta Ta. LC